The story of the Indiana Art Association began in 1894, when a bold 17-year-old artist from Johnstown with no formal training moved to Indiana and opened up an art school on Philadelphia Street. His name was Leslie Pattison, and one of his pupils, Carrie, became his wife.
The two raised a family, taught art classes, exhibited, and operated the Rustic Lodge in Indiana for 36 years, at which point they opened up their home in White Township, called The Rambles, for painting sessions. And that, in 1930, was the first meeting of the group that in 1943 became the Indiana Art Association. The group of local artists met regularly to paint, modeling for each other. Their first exhibit of oil and watercolor paintings was held in 1932 in the Crystal Room of the Moore Hotel.
In 1936, the group reorganized as a sketch club of 23 people meeting at art teacher Paul Smay’s home. Humorously calling themselves gThe Art and Hamburger Society,h their second show was held in 1940 at the Indiana Library. In addition to paintings, it included sculpture, etching, weaving, jewelry and other crafts.
In 1943 the group again reorganized, this time as the Indiana Art Association. The charter list of 28 members included nine people from the sketch club’s exhibition. Three of the charter members were professors in the IUP Art Department in 1939: Ralph Reynolds, Orval Kipp, and Mrs. Alma Gasslander.
The original Indiana Art Association Constitution of May 9, 1943 noted, gThe purpose of this organization is to promote interest, appreciation, and participation in the arts. This has been its purpose since it began with a small group which met at the Pattison home, ‘The Rambles,’ about 1930.h Their first meeting was held in the Indiana Library on June 2, 1943, with Carrie Pattison as the first president.
The group met in many places over the years: The Indiana Library (1940); Alex Stewart’s (Jimmy’s father) gArt Barnh in the rear of his hardware store (1950s); the Art Center (gCatawba Househ) on the corner of College Avenue and Maple Street (starting in 1954); the art room of the Indiana Senior High School (April-Dec 1987); Dr. Kipp’s home named gStudio 635h on Church Street (Dec 1987-April 1991); the Indiana County Courthouse Annex on Water Street (1991-1999); Studio 405 and Gallery 406 on the 4th floor of the Indiana Theater Building, 637 Philadelphia Street (starting 2000). As of 2010, IAA has continued in Studio 405.
A suggestion by Orval Kipp in the minutes of a March 12, 1951 meeting marks the first mention to gstart a fund with an art center as a goal for the future.h Throughout the 1950s we find records of a gbuilding fundh which was passionately built up by Ralph Reynolds in subsequent years and is still held in savings today.
IAA exhibits have been hosted in locations such as McElhaney Hall on gIndiana Sate Collegeh campus (1960); Indiana County Courthouse (1972-73); Kipp Gallery, Sprowls Hall, IUP (1974-76); Indiana Free Library (1980); Hoss’s Restaurant (1989); New Dean’s Restaurant (starting 1991); National Bank of the Commonwealth (50th Winners Exhibit 1991); the Old Courthouse (2005); and the Indiana County Historical Museum (starting 2006).
By the 16th Annual Spring Show in 1957, membership had grown to about 60. The organization gained support from local businesses, patrons and Friends of the Arts, naming awards in their honor or memory. It hosted classes and workshops, Junior Art Shows, dinner events, and Everyman Exhibits (1973-1976). Membership reached 90 artists by 1991, as recorded in the 50th Anniversary Winners Exhibit program.
In 1993, the annual exhibition program noted that the Indiana Art Association participated in the New Growth Arts Festival, ga thrilling addition to the life of our community,h according to Mrs. Morton (Ted) Brody in her gMessage from the President.h When the New Growth Arts Festival was disbanded in 2007, the Indiana Art Association partnered with the Indiana County Historical Society to continue the Open Arts Show each fall.
The association began awarding student scholarships in 1978. The Student Art Scholarship is still awarded yearly to an Indiana County high school senior who will go on to higher education in art. IAA has sponsored a summer Arts Camp (art, music and theater) for students K-12 since 2001.
With 120 members today, the Indiana Art Association continues to hold classes, meetings, artist demonstrations, studio sessions, critiques, solo and small-group exhibitions, and two judged shows each year; the Spring Show for members, and the Open Arts Exhibit for artists and aspiring artists in Indiana County. Many IAA artists actively exhibit in regional competitions outside the local area.
Compiled June 2011 by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, thanks to research by IAA archivist Barbara L. Fritsch in her book The Indiana Art Association Through the Years (2010), and facts Ms. Fritsch verified from a history found in the 50th Year IAA Winners Exhibit program (1991) and a history written by Linda Gibson in 2004 that appeared on IAA’s website 2005-2010.